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How Much Will the Colts Starters Play Thursday?

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When addressing the media Tuesday, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano gave an idea as to how long the starters will play in Thursday night's preseason opener against the Jets.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

We already knew that one Colts starter - wide receiver Reggie Waynewon't play Thursday night when the Colts take on the New York Jets for their preseason opener.  But what about the other starters?  How much will they play in their first preseason game?

Colts head coach Chuck Pagano gave some insight into that when he spoke to the media on Tuesday:

"We're going to play it by ear. You never know what's going to happen that first series when you throw them out there, but you'd love to see in a perfect world them go out there and have a six, seven, eight-play drive, score a touchdown, kick a PAT, and make a decision there, get them out of the game and whatnot. You'd love to see a start like that."

Basically, what Pagano is saying is this: he'd love for the starting offense to get one series and for that series to be a longer one ending in a score.  If that happens, they're most likely done.  But if it's something like a three-and-out or a shorter drive to open the game, then there's a good chance that they'll come back out there.  Really, it's more about the number of plays than the number of drives.

Defensively, we can expect the same thing.  It's based more on plays than on drives, so for them (unlike the offense) the hope is for two shorter drives, or something like that ending in a stop.  Again, depending on the number of plays in the first drive, we might see them out there for another one or not.  It just depends.

Realistically, I think we can expect the starters to play around 10-15 plays.  Offense and defense combined, that's roughly 20-30 plays.  That's it, but in the first preseason game starters hardly ever play a long time. Instead, Thursday night we will see a lot of Matt Hasselbeck and Chandler Harnish leading drives, and we'll see a lot of backups in the game.  In preseason, that's just as interesting, as we're watching who might make the team and who might be able to help.

But if you're tuning in to see the Colts starting offense and defense, make sure you do so right at 7:00 and make sure you don't blink - otherwise, you might miss it.